Category Archives: Lobbying

The influence of ‘big tobacco’ isn’t limited to think tanks: former minister Priti Patel was a lobbyist

Priti Patel: A former lobbyist for ‘big tobacco’.

Following the revelation that the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank is a lobbyist for British American Tobacco and for companies producing food that harms health – and also a major donor to the Conservative Party – does anybody remember this?

Priti Patel, the former International Development Secretary who was forced to resign after apparently conducting her own foreign policy in Israel, also lobbied for BAT, albeit in her former employment for a PR firm:

The employment minister, Priti Patel, was part of a team of spin doctors paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help a tobacco giant counter negative publicity, including that surrounding its joint venture with one of the world’s most brutal military regimes.

Documents unearthed by the Observer shine new light on Patel’s work for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) in the early years of this century.

The documents, released by BAT following a legal action, show that Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account. One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium.

In 2001, Shandwick drew up plans to invoice BAT for 279 hours of its work a month, of which Patel’s contribution amounted to 100 hours. BAT was charged £165 an hour for Patel’s services. The entire team was on a monthly retainer of nearly £40,000 – a total of almost £500,000 a year.

Firms like BAT are major donors to the Conservative Party, while people like the IEA and Ms Patel were instrumental in pushing their agendas onto politicians – and onto the public through political discussion shows like the BBC’s Question Time.

These people betray the public trust because they present the desires of corporate bosses as the needs of the nation. And then you wonder why the environment is going to ruin…

Source: Minister worked as spin doctor for tobacco giant that paid workers £15 a month | Business | The Guardian

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Anti-NHS think tank that funds the Tories – hugely – is itself funded by ‘Big Tobacco’

Kate Andrews: This woman – and the IEA think tank she represents – is bad for your health.

Think about the British Medical Journal‘s findings: Tobacco and food firms whose products are harmful to health have been secretly funding the Conservative Party, through the think tank known as the Institute for Economic Affairs.

So next time the odious Kate Andrews appears on Question Time, or Politics Live, or The Andrew Marr Show saying the NHS should be scrapped, bear in mind she’s speaking for British American Tobacco…

And she’s giving the Conservative government instructions.

A secretive think tank which called for the NHS to be scrapped while its heads pour millions into the Conservative Party – and its MPs’ – coffers is being funded by big tobacco, an investigation has found.

British American Tobacco is one of the groups funding the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think tank which is notoriously close-lipped about its donors.

The IEA has been an outspoken critic of public health measures for tackling smoking, obesity and harmful drinking, and past funders include organisations affiliated with gambling, alcohol, sugar and soft drinks industries.

Health experts said the findings, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), raise the prospect of a future Conservative leader aligning with big business at the expense of the public’s health.

Source: Big tobacco secretly bankrolling anti-NHS think tank whose bosses donate thousands to Tory leadership contenders, an investigation reveals | The Independent

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Bain Capital advisor Andrew Lansley tries to derail Lobbying Bill. Conflict of interest?

Listening on lobbying: Andrew Lansley proved exactly how trustworthy he is with the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Now he stands ready to hear discussion of his amendments to the new Lobbying Bill.

Listening on lobbying: Andrew Lansley proved exactly how trustworthy he is with the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Now he stands ready to hear discussion of his amendments to the new Lobbying Bill.

This seems nothing more than a filibuster. Now that Lord Lansley has a cushy job working for a lobbying firm, he doesn’t want it coming under scrutiny.

Right?

But doesn’t that raise the issue of conflict of interest? Why is Lansley being allowed to talk about this matter at all?

Come to that, after the atrocity that was the Health and Social Care Act 2012, why is this creature allowed to talk about anything at all, ever?

Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, who now advises health companies, has been accused of trying to stall a parliamentary bill that proposes to expose lobbyists in Whitehall to greater scrutiny.

The Tory peer has tabled 30 amendments to a bill before the House of Lords that seeks to establish a new register for lobbyists who meet ministers, senior civil servants and special advisers.

Labour and transparency campaigners suspect there will not be time for a parliamentary committee to discuss the amendments, and that the changes are in effect an attempt to scupper the bill.

Lord Lansley has denied their claims, saying he wants to ensure that the bill enshrines current regulatory powers and protects those being regulated.

The lobbying (transparency) bill won support from across the Lords last month when it was introduced by the Labour peer Clive Brooke.

The proposed legislation would replace the government’s much-criticised lobbying register with one that would be far more comprehensive.

It would cover in-house lobbyists as well as agency lobbyists, and would be extended to cover meetings with senior civil servants and special advisers. At present, only meetings between agency lobbyists and ministers and permanent secretaries are recorded.

Source: Tory peer Andrew Lansley accused of trying to stall lobbying bill | Politics | The Guardian

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Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers


As with Prince Charles, it is arguable that Prince William is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is the son of the heir to the Throne and needs to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

But the revelation that he receives these documents – which was not included in the response to a Freedom of Information request by the campaigning group Republic – creates a huge amount of concern over who has access to this information, and who does not.

The Duke of Cambridge occasionally receives copies of confidential cabinet documents, the BBC has learned.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said that, as a future heir to the throne, it was “appropriate that he is regularly briefed on government business”.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Prince Charles receives such material routinely – as does the Queen.

Campaign group Republic said there was “no good reason” why Prince William also received the information.

Earlier this week, Republic received four chapters of the Cabinet Office’s “precedent book” – released after a three-year freedom of information battle.

The book shows Prince Charles, the Queen, ministers and a handful of others get papers from cabinet and ministerial committees.

Junior government ministers do not receive such access to the documents.

Source: Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers – BBC News

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Controversy over Prince Charles should reopen debate on the government and lobbyists


Some might say that Prince Charles is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is heir to the Throne and has the right to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

However, he has made no secret of the fact that he has concerns of his own – and the revelation that he does receive these documents means he is in an excellent position to push his own agenda, ahead of any other lobbyist or the national interest.

If critics of the policy that allows him to see these papers want him to stop, though, they should also consider the fact that the Conservative Government, more than any other, is accessed by lobbyists representing other paid interests on a regular basis.

There was some discussion of this when the Transparency of Lobbying Act was being pushed through Parliament by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, but of course the national interest always comes a distant second to personal interest when ministers have a chance to make a little extra money.

Consider Esther McVey’s latest job – not the one we fund in which she chairs the British Transport Police; This Writer means her new job with lobbyists Hume Brophy.

Or what about Nadhim Zahawi, who works as chief strategy officer for oil explorer Gulf Keystone which has interests in Kurdistan, has had shares in Genel Energy, which also works in Kurdistan, and also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan, is on the UK Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy, and was appointed to the Commons Foreign Affairs select committee in June 2014, where he played a key role in its inquiry into government policy on Kurdistan?

The magazine Private Eye has a section entitled ‘Revolving Doors’, reporting on the huge number of MPs and civil servants who take jobs with private sector employers.

Strangely enough – unless huge numbers of the public rally to fight over any single issue, these individuals and the relatively small number of private interests they represent appear to have a monopoly on the Conservative Government’s ear.

So why single out Prince Charles?

“The disclosure of cabinet papers to Prince Charles is quite extraordinary,” said Graham Smith, Republic’s chief executive. “Not only because they would contain highly classified information, but because it gives him considerable advantage in pressing his own agenda when lobbying ministers. He is essentially a minister not attending cabinet. He gets the paperwork and has private meetings with ministers about policy.”

A senior MP called for a parliamentary inquiry into the arrangement, which he said made Charles Britain’s “best informed lobbyist”. It also prompted speculation that the prince uses the flow of information to help him intervene with ministers on new policy proposals before parliament or the public are aware of their existence.

Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, said Charles’s access to cabinet papers was “a considerable surprise” and called for a parliamentary investigation.

“He is not just a figurehead, he has become a participant in national debate and there is no control over his lobbying,” Flynn said. “This means that he is not only the most influential lobbyist, but the best informed and he is lobbying for his own interests, which are not always benign or sensible.”

Source: Revealed: Prince Charles has received confidential cabinet papers for decades | UK news | The Guardian

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